Being paid to quit Facebook

Graham Cluley

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Being paid to quit Facebook

The idea of paying people to stay off Facebook isn’t a new one.

Back in 2013, for instance, 14-year-old high school student Rachel Baier convinced her dad to pay her US $200 to stay off Facebook for the rest of the academic year.

The story of the contract they wrote up together, managed to make the TV news:

$200 is a lot of money for the typical ninth grader, and at least Rachel was able to stay in the loop with her friends by seeing them every day at school. I wonder if the typical Facebook user would be as easily convinced to give up the social network for an extended period of time.

In a new study, boffins have determined that the average person would need to be paid more than $1,000 to agree to stop using Facebook for a year.

A recently-published study suggests that the typical Facebook user would be prepared to give up their Facebook account for a year… if paid more than US $1000.

The study, published on the Public Library of Science website, describes how three economists and a social media researcher ran a series of real-life auctions to find just how much money people needed to quit Facebook for as little as an hour… or as long as a year.

The auctions were run like this: Everyone made a bid for how much cash they wanted to receive in order to live without Facebook for a year. Unlike a conventional auction where you are trying to win something and the person with the highest bid, the auctions instead deemed the person who requested the smallest amount of money to give up Facebook as the “winner”. And their prize would be a sum of money equivalent to the second-lowest bid received.

With this methodology it was hoped that people would consider carefully how much money they would really accept for quitting Facebook for a year.

Now, a few folks refused to bid at all (maybe there were no imaginable circumstances under which they felt they could live without Facebook), and others cheekily requested more than $50,000.

But those who were onboard with the spirit of the auction helped the researchers determine that the average amount of money required to give up one year’s worth of Facebook access was more than $1000.

Chart
Mean bid amounts for a year off Facebook across samples and studies.

Yes, despite Cambridge Analytica, Russian trolls, fake news, vulnerabilities, shady practices, and privacy breaches, users still value Facebook very highly.

Which makes me wonder just what would Facebook need to do to get people to leave in droves?

That’s the thing with addiction. Even though your brain tells you it’s bad for you, you just can’t stop.

I quit Facebook last year. If you’re finding it hard to imagine doing the same, why not listen to this “Smashing Security” podcast we put together describing the process of quitting Facebook:

Smashing Security #75: 'Quitting Facebook'

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Graham Cluley Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

5 Replies to “Being paid to quit Facebook”

  1. I agree with the other replies. I left some time back and it will always stay in the rear view mirror. No way or amount of money would ever being me back.

  2. So.. what would those who never joined be paid ?

    Actually until mid 2016 that was me but my ex (though not at the time) finally got me to join then. But I'm not addicted at all; some days I don't bother logging in unless I'm notified of a memory. I stay there because it's an easy way to have photos/videos of my pets and to keep in touch with an old crowd of mine. It was a victory of hers to get me to join for sure…

    But I will never let it consume me; instead I let books (Tolkien being the ones I read the most – as I reread them a lot .. and I have over 30 Tolkien books and there are many others I plan to buy) and (when well enough) programming 'consume me'. I don't understand why people want to share what they're doing every moment of every day and I hope that only those who are interested are those doing the same thing – and yet I know that others would be more than interested in that kind of information. To say when they're on holiday and…. Bad idea. Yet many people do tend to need constant attention and validation and in ways that I rather pity.

    Your question is very interesting though. At first in my dead tired state I read it as in what would they have to pay others to quit – as odd as that would be (that part didn't even register in my mind). But then looking back for a moment it registered – what blunders would they have to make to make people leave? My belief is there isn't such a thing. And part of that would be the popularity of it; people do tend to follow the sheep though I never have understood that. This of course also makes certain things more valuable than others and some of those things are far too valuable but people are willing to pay for it and this in turn only makes it more valuable and desired since people also tend to want things other people have.

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